President: The Worshipful The Mayor of Lostwithiel Councillor Mrs G M Parsons
Chairman: Mrs Mary Jones 3 Field Close, North Street, Lostwithiel PL22 0HJ 01208 873504
Secretary: Mrs Mary Jones 3 Field Close, North Street, Lostwithiel PL22 0HJ 01208 873504
Treasurer: Mrs H Roberts, Tregarth, Shute Hill, Victoria, Lostwithiel PL22 OAX
Not available at this time
Marc Brunel & Son
The Lostwithiel Old Cornwall Society played host to the Liskeard Branch on Mon 24 Feb 15,
for a presentation on : 'Marc Brunel & Son', given by their Federation President. The talk
began with the birth at Quithiock in 1775, of 'Sophia Kingdom', the sixteenth child to William
Kingdom, an Admiralty Purchaser. Sophia was later baptised at Antony, and later when
orphaned, was found the position as a Governess at Rouen, France.
Earlier in 1769, a young Marc Brunel, was born at Harqueville, Normandy, and as the second
Son to a Market Gardener/Carpenter, was destined for the Church. Here the Monks recognised
a greater potential in the young Marc, and recommended to his parents that his career be
directed more towards engineering. Marc, subsequently ended up being placed into the
French Navy, seeing service in the Caribbean, but his ship was called home due to unrest in
France. Marc, was a royalist and a rather outspoken on, and from there had to flee France,
to save his neck ! On his way to the coast he stayed at the same house as 'Cornish Maid -
Sophia Kingdom', and so developed a keen interest in each other.
Marc, made his way safely to New York, (Sophia, was interned for the duration of the French
Revolution). Upon entering New York, Marc's ship ran aground, and he as an experienced
Naval Officer, gained recognition through getting it re-floated. At the age of just 21 yrs,
Marc, soon became the City's Civil Engineer and won further acclaim through navigating
a canal system between the St Lawrence River and New York Harbour, so saving shipping
many hundreds of miles by going out to sea and back.
Whilst in North America, Marc, learned of a shortage in the Royal Navy of 'Blocks and Tackle
Pulleys' for hauling in goods and raising sails, each man of war requiring several hundred.
Marc, offered the British Admiralty, his design for machines that would turn out these
blocks/pulleys, of a uniform size and many times faster that a team of woodworkers. His
offer was accept and so Marc, came to England, and started the first production line of
such at Portsmouth, also a second factory producing Army Boots for the British. The only
problem being that neither the Admiralty or Army paid him for his skills and endeavours,
resulting in both he and Sophia, being thrown into the Debtor's Jail.
By this time, 'Sophia' had been released from Internment, both Marc and she had married
had two daughter and a Son, given his Father's second name and Mothers Maiden Name,
hence : Isambard Kingdom Brunel. At the age of 6 yrs this young lad was sent to France
for training as watchmaker and engineer, he failed in both such apprenticeships !
By the time of his return, Marc, had been released from the Debtor's Jail and won a
contract to build a passage under the River Thames, between Rotherhyde and Wapping.
He did this by sinking two vertical shafts each side of the river to a depth below the
river bed. He then devised a cupboard like wall then as the dig progressed under the
river, each compartment could be dig out, the door closed to prevent any inflow of
water, and the entire apparatus, pushed forward to repeat all again. His tunnel remains to
this day part of the London Underground Railway System.
Marc, (later to be Knighted for his achievements), also introduced to the UK, a rocking
saw to prevent choking, the circular saw, a hydraulic lift to bring tree trucks to the
veneer shaving knives, Tin Foil, The Sewing Machine, he experimented with Humphrey
Davy, over a Gas Engine, and for steam propulsion for shipping, here he was ordered by
the Admiralty to cease such experimentation, should other foreign Navy's end up better
equipped with faster and more versatile ships so gaining supremacy of the seas ! Marc,
also navigated a canal from Padstow to Fowey, but the project ran out of money.
Sir Marc and Sophia, lived in Duke Street, London, later to become part of the WW2 War
office, Marc died at the age of 80 yrs in 1849, and Lady Sophia, at the age of 79 yrs in
1854. In her obituary, it was noted that 'Sophia' never forgot her Cornish roots and
would acknowledge all in the streets of London, whether prince or pauper ! They
had three Grandchildren, by Isambard and his wife Mary Hershalle, and one who became
the Ecclesiastical Accountant at Ely Cathedral another, part Architect of Tower Bridge, and
a Granddaughter, the only one to have children and continue the family name as their second.
The two new Underground Railway Tunnels Networks currently under construction in London,
are named ; 'Sophia' and 'Mary', after Isambard's Mother and Wife.
Colours: Grey & Purple